I’ve written before about social media and its growing importance.
For many of you, I’m sure your eyes will glaze over at the mere mention of Twitter and Facebook and when I throw Tumblr and LinkedIn into the equation you’ll just think I managed to slip some very poor grammar and spelling past the editor this week.
Stick with me for a moment if you will because I want to tell you about how Wetherby has found itself at the heart of a social media phenomenon, as you will have read in the Wetherby News last week.
Twitter is an online social networking service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters known as “tweets”.
Created in 2006, the free service has well over 500 million registered users generating over 350 million tweets per day and is now one of the ten most visited websites on the internet.
Anyone can read anyone else’s tweets but only registered users can post tweets.
You can choose whose tweets you want to follow.
Throughout the day, when I have time, I can tweet about what I’ve been doing or my opinion on a given subject.
I can engage and interact instantly with those I follow and those who choose to follow me.
So why am I telling you all this? Well, every Tuesday between 8 and 9pm is now designated as Wetherby hour (in social media speak #Wetherbyhour. The # inserted before the task enables anyone who wants to do so, join in easily.
During this hour, individuals, businesses, services, charities and so on can interact with one other to promote themselves, gain new contacts and advertise events and what they do.
Every week, during that hour, tens of thousands of people, primarily locally but potentially all around the world are talking about Wetherby and doing it incredibly well.
Anyone with a business that isn’t taking part is really missing a trick as you can literally see businesses growing before your eyes.
This aspect is not unique to Wetherby. There is a Yorkshire hour, a Harrogate hour and many others but what is different in Wetherby and attracting significant attention is that a lovely lady called Jo has created a monthly event where many of the tweeters actually meet up in person and take part in #Wetherbyhour together.
I was delighted to take part in the latest event at The Muse café last Tuesday evening.
We were even joined by Harry Gration who came to see what all the fuss was about.
I promise you that people are really looking at Wetherby as a result of these events.
It is a slightly bizarre site, even in this day and age to see pretty much everyone in a room glued to their mobile phones, laptops or tablet devices although I’m pleased to report that people did actually talk to each other as well.
This event is for anyone, whether you were promoting a one off play, an exhibition, a sporting event or trying to get a business off the ground or promote an existing one.
It is for big business and small, charities, voluntary groups, young and old and it is free.
The live events have really drawn a great deal of attention to Wetherby from both new media and traditional media and they are attracting many new people to our town.
Wetherby’s reputation as a beautiful, traditional market town is hard fought and in my view, we should fight to protect it.
Modern initiatives such as Wetherby Hour Live and the work done by our Welcome to Wetherby group also show that we can be a great place to do business.
What I took from this event and I understand that over 100,000 people who were reached by it will have seen is that our traditional values combined with our incredible community spirit and volunteering culture plus our willingness to embrace new technology is what gives Wetherby an edge over similar towns as we seek grow and flourish while protecting that which makes us what we are.